Originally Posted by AJ Peacock
Very good advice. My dad/grandad gave me very similar instructions. And to always pay attention to how the ground is sloping, since it should be sloping the other way on you way back out (Colorado type terrain).
I have personally never really done the turn around thing but i sure will if i can remember next time im out... I'm gonna share a story where the only thing that got me home was my instincts and paying attention to how the land laid out for me.
Unfortunatly I was never tought much about finding my way home... only to follow "dear ol dad" around since he knows well enough what he's doing but one time when i was young 14 or 15 and new to hunting, I figured id try out my tracker skills and leave dad with the horses so they wont spook the deer i was after. (this was also the day i learned im not near sneaky enough to catch up to anything) I never found the deer i saw but followed lots of tracks up and down draws over fences and ridges and got myself all kinds of turned around with my survival pack back on the horse...
Not a good situation... The weatherman had also called for warm nice weather(5 celcius) so i was in a light sweater and windbreaker camo and was wearing my light hiking boots. The weatherguy was wrong. it snowed all morning and afternoon and since it was hot out. it all was wet sticky snow it soaked my clothes shoes and every part of me down to the bone.
By the time i gave up on my deer and turned around to expect dad and the horses i was thoroughly lost and walked 5 ridges away from camp. I had no idea where they were and remembered i had cut some fences which they would not be able to follow. So I backtracked for a while... climbed to nice vantage points but could not see anything that looked familiar at all... this being my first time on this area we have since frequented. Well I know which way id hiked to get there but didnt take note of much as i had hiked into that predicament and am since soaked to the bone and temps falling to about -10 celcius and colder as it because darker.
I decided to keep hiking the direction i thought we had come but after hiking over 4 big ridges I still didnt see camp and gave up on that direction ( little did i know it was just one ridge further to our camp ) about that time i rememebred the drive to camp the day before and the road ran parallel with a 20 ft wide stream. I knew this stream was downhill from me and I knew which direction that was so i headed for that thinking ill just get to the road and hitch a ride since i knew the camps name where we were staying.
Downhill i go, slipping and falling on the fresh slushy snow, overexhausted... dehydrated, depressed, and scared, i finally care to the stream. Great I knew the road was just 200 yards past it. Except now i had to figure out how i was going to cross... it was only 2-3 feet deep but no beaver dams or crossings were in sight so I considered two options... walk across in my schoes and get completely soaked with freezing water and hope that i find my ride home before i get frostbite or take off my boots and walk across barefoot and then put on my dry clothes after. Not real excited about either option but if i had to pick it would have been option B but i decided to keep walking the bank and see what i could find.
Well I came across a little waterfall about 6 ft high and overtop of it was 4 or 5 fallen trees about 1.5 - 2 inches thick. I figured if i could spread out my weight they would hold me and wandered out on all fours to cross. it wasnt too bad except when my gun slipped off my shoulder and my wrist caught the sling on its way down which momentarily threw me off balence. but i regained what composure i had left and moved on. making it to the otherside finally I moved to the road and could hear splashing in the water like perhaps horses crossing so i shouted out for help and heard startled splashing... again i called out but heard only intermittent splashing... I figure now this was some moose or deer wandering through that i had spooked, but it kind of spooked me too... Being young with a creative mind and hearing lots of stories of cougar bear and wolves in our area recently, i was not sticking around to see what this animal was after dark.
I could see the road now and as i walked throught he feet of wet snow I saw the most beautiful thing id seen all day, the headlights of an oncoming vehicle barreling down the road. The only problem was I was still 50 yards into the trees so i ran as fast as i could hopping deadfall so i wouldnt miss my ride but in the last 5 feet of it i tripped and fell face first into the snowy ground, rifle smacking me square in the back of the head(Icing on the cake). I heard the tires of my rescuer drive on by and jumped to my sore and swollen feet to run onto the road and yell and try to flag down the stranger but it was too late. I knew it was not a popular road so it really crushed my energy although i knew the road led to my camp so i started walking one way... saw a cattleguard that i thought about and could not remember driving by on the way so i turned around and walked about a mile or 2 the other direction before I came upon another car of two hunters who thankfully knew where my camp was after i told them the name and we proceeded to drive back the way i had just walked the past hour or so and just past the cattleguard i didnt remember about a half mile down the road was my camp. And I was filled with such a huge relief.
Two times i should have kept following my instincts but because I did not make a mental note of very obvious landmarks I had made things alot worse for myself... Although I had enough to make it home thankfully.
My dear ol dad however did not come back to camp for another 4 hours, which meant alot to me for the fact that he was not going to give up on me. Turns out he was on my tracks for a long time and as i figured the fences that i crossed screwed up his path alot, also so did another hunter who dad tracked for a while too until he saw it wasnt me in the boots making the tracks... He told me of all the toughts running through his head and joked that he knew if he did not find me that he might as well never go home because my mom would surely kill him. I had also done the breakfast dishes since I figured my dad would be so angry with me that it might soften the blow. lol He and i had some very long talks following my little adventure and most importantly I gained alot of knowledge and experience in making sure to prevent anything like this happening ever again. Also we carry radios now with our survival packs on us at all times.
I have since gone out on several search and rescue missions for stranded hunter friends of ours (horse got away, injuries) and even another lost child in an area I had never been too but I paid much more attention to the land around me, how many ridges back to the truck, the direction home due to the lay of the land and which direction the ridges flow in if that makes any sense. I still dont use GPS, maps or compasses because I have trained my eye to read the land.
Well i didnt mean for this to be so longwinded but hopefully some of you enjoyed the read.